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A Good Night’s Sleep, Naturally

Posted on 06 Aug 2013 | Author Stefanie | Comments 1 comment | Tags

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A Good Nights Sleep, NaturallyWhen was the last time you had a truly great night of sleep? One that you awoke from easily, refreshed, and ready to take on the world? Unfortunately for many people this is rare. Most people, at some point in their lives, find it hard to fall asleep, and sometimes to stay asleep through the entire night. In fact, a recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and up to 75% of us deal with sleep difficulties at least a few nights each week.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. There has been a lot of new research around insomnia, and there are many solutions out there for a better night’s rest. The first step in figuring out what will work for you, is discovering what is causing your sleeplessness in the first place. The following are everyday things that can get in the way of your best sleep possible:

Lack of exercise: Our bodies are designed to move, and move a lot. Our survival has depended on physical activity for thousands of years, and we’re simply not designed to be sitting for hours at a time. So even if you feel like you’ve been running around all day, if your heart rate hasn’t been elevated for a certain length of time or you haven’t broken a sweat, your body will have a hard time shutting down at night. So an hour or so of exercise will go a long way towards a good night’s sleep, and also help reduce mental stress at the same time.

Racing thoughts: Let’s face it, between work, family, friends, and even watching the news, our brains get quite a work out. All this activity can make it hard to settle our thoughts at night, making it nearly impossible to fall asleep. To give your mind a break, try writing down your top five or ten stresses, both good and bad, before bed. This will help to relieve stress, and put your mind at ease for the night.

What you eat and when: These days sugar is everywhere, especially in processed foods- it’s hard to avoid, and causes a lot of health problems. It can also put your adrenal glands on a roller coaster ride, and bring your energy along. Other stimulants, like caffeine, or relaxants like alcohol, make it hard for our bodies to recognize patterns of rest and activity. These are all okay in moderation, but if you find yourself overdoing it, your sleep will be affected. For some, a morning cup of coffee can actually affect their night-time sleep!

Prescription drugs: Sleeplessness is a side effect of many prescription drugs, so talk to your doctor about your medications. Or look them up on-line, for starters. Even prescription sleep aids can cause problems over time. These drugs basically knock you unconscious, then rob you of your precious restorative REM sleep. They disturb your sleep in the long run and then you have to deal with drug withdrawal. So if you can address these common causes, turn the television off, take a warm bath (and even better, with some relaxing, magnesium-laden Epsom salts and calming lavender oil) and top it off with a little warm milk night cap, (yes, it really works!) you should be soon be sleeping soundly.

Natural Remedies: If you still have issues, then there are natural remedies, including amino acids: tryptophan, 5 –hyroxytryptophan (5 HTP), theanine; melatonin which is technically a hormone, and the herbs – valerian, passion flower, and lemon balm.

I developed a combination formula called Nightly Calm that’s been helpful for many insomniacs.

Article Author: Hyla Cass M.D. is a physician practicing integrative medicine and psychiatry. She combines the best of natural medicine with modern science in her clinical practice and appears regularly on TV, radio, and has been quoted in many national magazines. A member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Health Sciences Institute and Taste for Life Magazine, she is also Associate Editor of Total Health Magazine, she has served on the boards of California Citizens for Health and the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). She graduated from the University of Toronto School of Medicine, interned at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, and completed a psychiatric residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/UCLA. She is the author of several popular books including: Natural Highs,        8 Weeks to Vibrant Health, and Supplement your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition.

Article Sources:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health

Article Image: Microsoft Clip Art

Popularity: 1% [?]

Constant Cravings…Am I a Food Addict?

Posted on 06 Aug 2013 | Author Stefanie | Comments No comments | Tags

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Constant Cravings…Am I a Food Addict?Every New Year’s Resolution and almost every Monday will start the same: new goals and fresh ambition to once again, eat right, eat less, exercise more and finally lose those unwanted pounds! The day starts off great with a healthy and nourishing breakfast, you make it pass lunchtime without any incidence, and then it happens: The stress and work begins to pile up and take its emotional toll and before you know it, all you can think about is sugary, high carbohydrate, calorie-laden foods. You think, “I’ll just have one” when you reach for that donut or chocolate chip cookie, or even, a bowl of spaghetti marinara. However, it doesn’t stop at one, or two or three…and before you know it you are left with an overly full stomach and feelings of shame, guilt and defeat, knowing that this isn’t the first time and will most likely not be the last time this scenario happens.

If this sounds all too familiar, it may be possible that you are battling a food addiction, where your brain is actually addicted to food making it almost impossible to break this vicious cycle without proper help. According to Dr. David Kessler, professor at UCSF and former commissioner of the FDA, there are more than 70 million food addicted adults in the United States alone, contributing to the obesity epidemic and rising costs of healthcare.

Just like the tobacco industry scandals, the food industry has built addictiveness into our chips and sodas and jumbo burgers. So dieting to lose weight won’t help, since you’ll be back eating it all (and regaining the weight) before you know it – unless you know how to change your brain!

I have spent many years in medical practice, helping to repair the damage done by poor food choices, unhealthy substances, and inadequate medical care to treat it. My approach to addiction is not that of mainstream or conventional medical care. No surprise here! I have been alarmed at the growing problems of addiction in all areas (food, drugs, medications, and activities) leading to a great deal of suffering by those directly and indirectly affected. The way it’s being treated, or not treated, has led me to write and speak on natural approaches to addiction whenever I can. I’m excited to share this information with you, so you can understand how addiction works insidiously on your brain, body, and every aspect of your life, and how you can take back control.

WHAT IS A FOOD ADDICTION?
A food addiction is characterized by an compulsive need to eat despite knowing negative consequences, such as weight gain and damaged relationships. Just like an addiction to drugs or gambling, no matter how much you try to stop your behavior, it usually just keeps happening. Eating triggers a feel-good brain chemical called dopamine that sends reward signals that may override feelings of fullness and satisfaction. This causes eating and overeating to occur without any hunger being present. What’s worse, you slowly develop a tolerance to food and will find that despite eating all that seductive food, it’s not as satisfying as it once was.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A FOOD ADDICTION?
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of food addiction:

-Weight gain.
-Eating more food than the body can physically tolerate.
-Continuing to eat past the point of feeling full.
-Eating in secret and seclusion.
-Heart palpitations.
-Taking extreme measures to obtain food.
-Decreased energy or extreme fatigue.
-Difficulty concentrating, insomnia, restlessness and general irritability.
-Suicidal thoughts.

HELP FOR FOOD ADDICTION
By definition, addiction is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse consequences. Addiction in any form is a disease of the brain.

We know that food addiction is very real and the effects are detrimental to one’s life and ultimate happiness According to WebMd.com, recent experiments in animals and humans are showing that for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food. Therefore, the trick to overcoming addiction is to restore and regulate normal neurotransmitter balance within the brain.

As an expert in the fields of integrative medicine, psychiatry and addiction recovery and author of “The Addicted Brain and How to Break Free”, Dr Hyla Cass knows there are natural solutions to this serious problem, and it’s not just “white-knuckling” it.  She has helped many to overcome this by re-balancing their brain chemistry with diet and natural supplements, thinking positively and adopting a healthy mind and mood lifestyle.

Article Author:  Hyla Cass M.D. is a physician practicing integrative medicine and psychiatry. She combines the best of natural medicine with modern science in her clinical practice and appears regularly on TV, radio, and has been quoted in many national magazines. A member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Health Sciences Institute and Taste for Life Magazine, she is also Associate Editor of Total Health Magazine, she has served on the boards of California Citizens for Health and the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). She graduated from the University of Toronto School of Medicine, interned at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, and completed a psychiatric residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/UCLA. She is the author of several popular books including: Natural Highs,      8 Weeks to Vibrant Health, and Supplement your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition.

Article References:
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-food-addiction
http://www.addictionhope.com/food

Article Image: Microsoft Clip Art

Popularity: 1% [?]

Why You Crave Salt

Posted on 29 Jul 2013 | Author Stefanie | Comments No comments | Tags

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Why You Crave SaltDo you ever find it nearly impossible to stop eating potato chips? Or do you sometimes find yourself swinging through the drive-thru for some fries even when you’re not really hungry? If so, you’re not alone. Humans are hard wired to crave salt- and that makes sense, since we do need it to survive, just in much smaller amounts than we typically consume. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic: “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you are black, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.” The average American, however, is consuming more like 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount. According to Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times, and author of SALT SUGAR FAT: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table, it comes from processed food.

There are many reasons you might be craving salt, some indicate a serious medical problem, but often it is simply learned behavior. If you grew up salting your food, it won’t taste as good to you at first to skip the salt. However, taste buds do change, and you’ll soon adjust to less salt in your diet, and feel better too. Here are a few reasons you may be craving salt:

Not enough minerals: Our bodies need calcium, magnesium, zinc and other minerals to keep our systems running smoothly. Many minerals have a salty flavor, so when you get the message to eat more salt, your body is trying to tell you to eat more minerals! You will keep craving salt until your mineral needs are met, which can often be accomplished with a quality multi vitamin and mineral.

Dehydration: Salt performs the important function of keeping water in our bodies for long enough to hydrate our cells. When you become dehydrated, you need a little more salt to bring your electrolytes back in line, and keep retaining the water you need. Exercise, alcohol, and ironically, too much salt, can all lead to dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water every day, and extra when you exercise. When you drink alcohol, stay hydrated (and more sober) by drinking one glass of water for every alcoholic drink. You’ll also feel much better the next morning!

Underactive adrenal glands: your craving for salt can be a sign of adrenal gland underactivity, and will be reflected in super low blood pressure. So, even though high blood pressure is bad, low blood pressure isn’t necessarily good. I check my patients for adrenal function to be sure, best done with a saliva test for cortisol levels, and throughout the day. Called an Adrenal Stress Index, you can send away for a kit to test it yourself. I carry one in my website store, in fact, under hormone testing kits.

Old age: As we age, our taste buds aren’t as sharp as they once were. Consequently, food tastes blander, and the easiest solution is to pile on the salt. As long as your blood pressure is healthy, it’s not too bad to use a little salt, but look for a natural sea salt or Himalayan salt that contains other minerals in addition to sodium.

Food cravings of any kind usually signify a deficiency of some kind in your body. It is natural to crave salt, because our early ancestors would have had a much harder time incorporating it into their diets than we do today. Check out my book 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health, for even more ways to break bad habits and addictions, and learn to live without cravings through a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Article Author: Hyla Cass M.D. is a physician practicing integrative medicine and psychiatry. She combines the best of natural medicine with modern science in her clinical practice and appears regularly on TV, radio, and has been quoted in many national magazines. A member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Health Sciences Institute and Taste for Life Magazine, she is also Associate Editor of Total Health Magazine, she has served on the boards of California Citizens for Health and the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). She graduated from the University of Toronto School of Medicine, interned at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, and completed a psychiatric residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/UCLA. She is the author of several popular books including: Natural Highs,   8 Weeks to Vibrant Health, and Supplement your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition.

Article References:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/NU00284

Article Image: Microsoft Clip Art

Popularity: 2% [?]

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